Friday, January 26, 2018

Moscamania !

When Jack Tunney aligned with the WWF in 1984 it was the end of NWA at Maple Leaf Gardens.  Jack's uncle Frank had been aligned with the NWA since its very beginnings, hosting the NWA Title and champ at the time Lou Thesz in 1949.

Through the next 35 years or so Frank was an NWA member but also worked with the AWA for a time and frequently had the WWWF/WWF champs in dating back to Bruno in 1964.

By 1986 the WWF was firmly entrenched here as part of its massive national expansion, not just in Toronto but all around Southern Ontario.

Enter Angelo Mosca who had been working with the NWA.

He announced the return of the NWA for a show to be held at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton. It was a risky venture but Mosca was the man to do it. With a long history in Hamilton as a Hall of Fame CFL great Mosca announced the show to be dubbed 'Moscamania.'

At the time Mosca 50 years old, now mostly retired from the ring, was busy doing TV ads, and several different business ventures around town. A few days after the show in Hamilton he was in Toronto doing a TV commercial for Lite beer , said he made 25k in what was his 14th or 15th commercial since he had done the Schick 'Tell it to my face' campaign some years before.

A little bit after the card he was a guest star on the popular 'Night Heat' TV show, in June of that year was elected to the CFL Hall Of Fame, and in Nov 1986 was present when Whipper Watson received an award from the Canadian Children's Foundation, holding up the girl presenting the award, echoing Whipper each year at the Easter Seal 's Dinners. Mosca as usual, was  staying front and centre in the media of the day.

A month prior to the show he had met with CFL commissioner Doug Mitchell to discuss becoming a goodwill ambassador. The reporters later said  that the CFL missed the boat by not using him as he was a born promoter and 'mouthpiece' type in everything he did.

Mosca teamed with former teammate Len Chandler to promote the show with corporate sponsor Amstel Brewery on Feb 2 1986. It was a huge success with over 12,000 fans and a gate of $140,000. A dollar from each ticket went to the Spinal Cord Society and the fans were treated to a great show.

The main event brought Toronto favourite Ric Flair back for the first time since May 1984 to defend his NWA Title against Dusty Rhodes. At that time Flair was a hated heel while Rhodes was fan favourite in the NWA world but the fans here were having none of it. Flair even back in the early 1980's was a favourite here while a heel most other places. Even as a full out heel here in 78-79 the fans were behind him most of the time.

During the Flair-Rhodes bout the fans started cheering Flair so they reversed roles with Rhodes second Baby Doll helping Rhodes by interfering in the bout. Flair took the win to a huge ovation and the card which also featured the Road Warriors, Jimmy Valiant (always hugely popular here), Abdullah The Butcher, Sgt Slaughter and a host of local guys including Mosca's son Angelo Jr. was declared a huge success.

Longtime MLG ring announcer Norm Kimber, recently let go by the Toronto office did the introductions for the night.

At the time Mosca declared he was seeking to become the exclusive promoter at Copps, similar to how the Tunney's had exclusive use of MLG but it was not to happen.

He also owned the syndicated TV rights for the TV show Pro Wrestling Canada which was produced by Milt Avruskin. They showed NWA bouts which were sometimes up to a year old and did voice-overs on the bouts. PWC which ran from May 1986 to Oct 1986 was on the CTV Kitchener affiliate channel 13 locally but that channel wasn't available to most in Toronto.

Mosca later told a reporter that he couldn't get the show on in Toronto and that's what killed it.
Doug Bassett, head of the CTV told him 'it wasn't family oriented television.' At that time they had WWF Championship , International Wrestling from Montreal, and the Maple Leaf WWF show all on the other channels in Toronto. While the WWF was tame the International show was a harder style, a throwback to the 70's style - that Toronto was used to - see 'The Sheik.

The show later appeared for a time on TSN and I'm sure I saw it on CFTO channel 9 in Toronto but it may have been after the show ran it course.

In a Milt Dunnell column he reported "He (Mosca) is president and promoter of Pro Wrestling Canada, with shows on 10 TV stations in the east and two in the west. He stages live shows in Kitchener, Ottawa and Toronto (Varsity Arena), when he is not busy lifting trucks in Chevy commercials.'

He never promoted any show at Varsity Arena nor Ottawa as far as I know. Outside of the Hamilton shows and the one in Kitchener (more on those below) the only other one of record was in Peterborough on Feb 17 with Tully Blanchard vs Barry Windham as the main.

Mosca would present another show in Kitchener on Nov 23rd to feature a main of Nikita Koloff vs Wahoo McDaniel as Moscamania II. This one was a reverse of the first one, several no shows and most of the cast filled out with locals. Only 1.500 showed up but it was not to deter Mosca from staging another Hamilton show in Feb 1987.

Unfortunately he ran it on the same night as big WWF show at MLG featuring Roddy Piper vs Adrian Adonis in a 'retirement bout.' Mosca had Flair vs Nikita Koloff but only drew 3,000 compared to the 17,000 at a packed MLG. On Mosca's show Blanchard battled Rhodes and they reversed roles as well as the fans were booing Dusty again.

There were rumours of bad payouts (heard years later) and that was the end of Mosca's promotional tenure.